Posts Tagged ‘music’

Co-creation as a cross-over genre

Monday, July 9th, 2012

 Yes, there is such a thing as business methodology fashion. Big data and social enterprise are hot. They’re the Kate Perry and Lady Gaga of business concepts, drawing huge crowds to seminars everywhere. Innovation is not far behind, but like Justin Bieber, it’s hot, rising, and in need of growing up. Customer experience is still high on the charts, but its Eminem alter ego, the Net Promoter Score band, is on the way down. Process design and quality, those Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd of the 70s, now belong on NPR fund-raisers for middle-aged corporate types. Organization and strategy have long gone punk and disco and only get rotation on oldies but goldies stations featuring specialty acts by aging professors. Leadership, like Jimmy Buffet, is still drawing huge crowds of parrot heads to executive education seminars at Harvard Business School. Operations is like hip-hop, more or less always in fashion, changing form all the time, sometimes Ice T gangsta rap, sometimes Black Eyed Peas mainstream.

So where does this leave co-creation, you might wonder? I think we’re like Beyoncé. A little r’n’b, a little hip-hop, a little pop. We’re a cross-over genre. Co-creation, through its communities aspect, is often listed by Billboard as HR and transformation (employee communities), sometimes as product development (customer communities). Because engagement platforms require technology, the charts have us as an IT act. When we rock on experience, we become Marketing artists. When we sing about interactions as the new process, we end up in Quality, 6 Sigma and Lean concerts. And when we show the cost effectiveness of co-creation, we end up on the financial charts.

We sometimes confuse our public, but heck, if it works for Beyoncé…

Confessions of a music nerd

Friday, July 24th, 2009

I love music and I love data. I can strum my air guitar like Jimmy Page. But I can also run regression models with the best MIT nerds. As the Who said, I can’t explain, but the two are inextricably linked. And now I have a new outlet for my musical nerdiness. As of yesterday, Billboard – and its mother company Nielsen — gives me access to its historical chart data.

Mom, I’m in hog heaven. They have a thing called the Visualizer. I can see how many weeks the Black Eyed Peas have been number 1 in the Hot 100. I can organize my very own Linkin Park vs. Red Hot Chili Peppers smackdown. Beyond the sheer pleasure of wallowing in the data, Nielsen also allows me to contextualize that data to my biography. In a feature called Soundtracks of Your Life, the site asks for a few meaningful dates in my existence and tells me what was top of the charts at the time. When I entered my birth year (1954), I was told the charts didn’t go quite that far back into Cro-Magnon territory (1958 is the first year). So I pretended to be my younger sister, but it got a little too personal when she was asked about her first kiss. I can also bet on who’ll be going up or down in next week’s chart and win some free downloads. Now, I can analyze how quickly Incubus typically rises in the charts, or predict sales of Lady Gaga as a function of her radio airplay. I’m now a gambler, on top of a music nerd. I’m tuning my R square and turning on my Chi square coefficient. How much fun can one have?

There’s lots of us out there, believe it or not. For years, we’ve wanted to peel the data off the magazine or the web site, but were never allowed to do so. Until yesterday, Billboard had only made its data accessible to professional record labels and music retailers willing to pay a king’s ransom every month. The professionals do very little with that data, it turns out, except to look at sales and show artists that they’re not as hot stuff as they think they are. I know. I worked for several of them over the years.

Music companies are not exactly stoked with analytical people. They hold the strange view that discovering the next Beyoncé is more important than devising a predictive algorithm showing when to stop investing in promotion for a particular artist. But they should do both. And we, analytical nerds, can now do some of that for them for free now that the data is up for grabs. Welcome to analytical co-creation.

The serious story here is that the best way to generate insights from large databases is not to restrict its access to a few experts, but to open it to a large number of passionate people who care about it. Billboard will undoubtedly unleash a whole eco-system of analytical nerds trying to predict artist and song behaviors. As for me, please no calls this summer. I’m testing a proprietary song-climbing pattern showing it’s time for a re-release of Pink Floyd’s greatest hits. The track most likely to be a revival hit: “Money.”

Boston Symphony Orchestra vs. Karaoke?

Monday, July 13th, 2009

This week-end, I was at Tanglewood, Masssachusetts, attending a performance of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. It was a delight. But when it comes to musical experience, I prefer karaoke.

At the concert, I got to watch and listen. That’s about it. The extent of my creative involvement was to pontificate with my wife about Joshua Bell’s interpretation of Max Bruch’s first violin concerto (“the only one, really”). I could bring parallels to my own high school cello career (“his vibrato is a bit stronger, but he has the advantage of playing on a Stradivarius”). We could plan a wonderful picnic around the performance. But when Joshua came on stage and played, all I could do was listen and clap at the end (I always suspect these standing ovations at Tanglewood are caused by the discomfort of sitting on those lawn chairs for too long).

With karaoke, I’m involved. Three years ago, on a drunken wager in a suburb of Philadelphia, a colleague got me on stage to give a rendition of Lose Yourself by Eminem (with the urging that since “co-creation originated at the University of Michigan, I betcha you’re good at that Detroit rap stuff”). I had never tried hip-hop, and let me tell you, it ain’t easy. The first verse (do they have verses in hip-hop?) is an apt description of my mental state on the stage of this little suburban bar: His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy…

Figuring out when to come in was hard. Is it chorus time already? O gosh, this sounds like the accompaniment for the second verse. The only thing I nailed was the fade-away (“You can do anything you set your mind to, man”, although I have doubts this applies to my hip-hop career). I have been practicing ever since, and while I may never have the guts to get back on a karaoke stage, I’m sure going to nail those lyrics.

To give the Boston Symphony a fair chance, I have inquired about co-creation opportunities that would involve me. They suggested that I make a donation.